A while back I applied to write for a game -- what eventually became this game -- but I didn't get the job. But here's the sample material I wrote. The game was to be based around this murderous game show called Time To Live, and at that stage of development the cues were campy 80s ultra-violence, satirical sci-fi, and things like Running Man, GI Joe, M.A.S.K. with maybe a bit of Gladiators, Blade Runner, Tron thrown in. We were asked to come up with some helmets and firms, so here are some helmets I made up, and thereafter some firms, also not real.
ADAMANTIUM MESH BEANIE
The toughest beanie known to mankind. When your head explodes, have the satisfaction of knowing your hat’s intact.
ALONSO’S HEAD’S HELMET
This grisly relic was hammered out of the head unit of an android named Alonso. Waste not, want not. What Alonso would have wanted. Definitely.
The blossoms of this genetically modified mega-gargantuan orchid make perfect headgear. For the sports pro who needs to look credible, yet feel fragrant.
Probably won’t offer much protection. But it’s very on trend.
EXTREME FASHION HELM
Real-time feeds from fashion bloggers, plus a unique shape-shifting nanotech design, means you’ll always be wearing the very latest. You just may not know what it is.
1. BUTTERBUG MEDIA
Info: Ah, Butterbug Media! What other business can claim to have brightened so many lives with such buttery, insectile goodness? Butterbug Media are the minds behind such television phenomena as Come Die With Me, America’s Next Trap Model, Who Wants to Mangle a Multi-Millionaire?, The Great Brutish Break Off and Knife Swap.
Butterbug Media is a mecca for hipster geeks and creatives. It’s just a fun, cool, awesome company to work for! Everything an employee’s heart could want is provided for on Butterbug’s flagship location, the Dream Campus, Montreal. Like, there’s even this awesome upside-down antigravity swimming pool on the ceiling. Butterbug Media has no fixed shifts, so everybody can come and go as they please – and almost nobody ever goes! Plus, when employees burn out and have cataclysmic break-downs, they even get to relax – often for the rest of their lives! – at a fun, cool, awesome company-owned neurodiversity celebration centres.
Most important of all, Butterbug Media produce The Axe Factor, currently the second-most-beloved TV show in the world. This is the first year Butterbug Media have sponsored a Time to Live athlete. There’s a clear conflict of interests. So ... what are Butterbug’s real motives?
Company structure and governance: A public limited company headquartered in Montreal. The current CEO is the flamboyant Comptesse Accrington Mountbatten Noire. The Comptesse generally conducts her press conferences from the saddle of her robo-unicorn Stephanie. Junket journalists have nightmares about Stephanie’s prehensile unicorn horn.
Core offering: Development/production/publishing/distribution of mass market and innovative niche media and entertainments products.
Relationships: Butterbug’s most successful show, The Axe Factor, has a rather familiar format: players are given one-and-a-half minutes to live, battling in a tiled arena strewn with random resources and hazards. When the clock runs out a hatchet descends on a spindly robotic arm and gives the athlete the chop. Butterbug Media are, not surprisingly, currently embroiled in a massive copyright dispute with Time to Live Productions.
2. DELIGHT & TOUCH LLP
Info: Delight & Touch has an ethos of restraint, civility, assiduousness and diligence. From its humble beginnings as a discreet, two-partner accountancy practice above a fish and chips shop in Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire, Delight & Touch has grown into a global giant.
Maybe it’s something to do with the lingering aroma of fish and chips, but it’s grown into a hungry global giant. Over the course of the last two decades Delight & Touch has assiduously, diligently, and with the maximum possible restraint and civility, swallowed absolutely every rival firm in existence, gradually coming to monopolise the entire financial services sector and then – just when the world was breathing a big sigh of relief – diversifying. Consultancy, insurance, investment banking, legal services ... it’s now generally accepted that Delight & Touch has more fingers than there are pies to put them in.
Though more comfortable lurking in the small print than hitting the headlines, Delight & Touch made the news in 2192, becoming the first major company to be diagnosed with Compulsive Merger & Acquisition Disorder. Iain Fez-Granfogger, the probable CEO of Delight & Touch at the time, stated to the press: “Companies are people too! We’re born, we grow, we buy property, we pay tax, we have great days and bad days. Why can’t we have feelings? Why can’t we have pretty serious psychiatric issues?” After intensive therapy, a lengthy detox period, and a vow never again to so much as look at a hostile take-over, Delight & Touch has recently re-opened for business. The company is hoping to improve its tarnished image with some high-profile sports sponsorship. The question on everyone’s lips is . . . how long before the first relapse?
Company structure and governance: Legally speaking, Delight & Touch is probably a Limited Liability Partnership. “Probably” because who really keeps track of that stuff? Because of its intricate company structure, nobody really knows who currently owns or runs Delight & Touch, or where it is headquartered. Delight & Touch is a big operation. It makes Godzilla look like Littlefoot from The Land Before Time. Boasting offices all over the world, and in the exciting new suborbital and lunar tax havens, the company has unparalleled coverage and reach. Don’t be alarmed: there may even be a Delight & Touch office RIGHT BEHIND YOU. Delight & Touch may be big, but it nevertheless keeps to the shadows . . .
Core offering: Audit, assurance, corporate finance, consultancy, insurance, commercial and investment banking, credit rating, regulation and compliance, corporate information technology and cybersecurity, corporate and sovereign troubleshooting, emerging capital technology, corporate legal advice, litigation and dispute resolution, corporate and sovereign surveillance and intelligence, business systems systems services, systems business services systems, systems systems business services systems services, and many, many more.
• In the ongoing Time to Live Productions v. Butterbug Media legal dispute, Delight & Touch are the lawyers for both the plaintiff and the defendant. (This could be seen as a conflict of interests, but that’s okay! – Delight & Touch is also supplying conflict of interests advisory services to both those companies).
• Since the Delight & Touch company structure is so opaque, it’s always possible that a few of the other sponsors are actually its unwitting subsidiaries.
• In order to preserve a reputation for assiduousness and diligence, Delight & Touch is very reliant on Kawaguchi Enterprises products, especially Kawaguchi Assiduousness® and Kawaguchi Diligence® pharmaceuticals. If there were ever a hold up in supply, it would hit Delight & Touch badly.
3. ARCANE SKIES
Info: Don’t be fooled by her bubblegum goth image: Ku'uipo Ashleigh Lopez, teen trillionaire, and sole founder and proprietor of Arcane Skies, is one of the most powerful people on the planet. How did it all start? Lopez tells of the day she turned tragedy to entrepreneurship: “Like, I’ve always wanted my own gigantic, slightly sinister organisation. I was even 22% funded on Kickstarter at one point. But TBBH, my ideas sucked? Then one day, BAM, out of the blue, it hit me! Actually, uh, it hit my cat? There was this huge whoosh and the ground shook. I ran into the garden and found this smoking crater, with nothing left of Doctor Cream but her collar. I still miss you, Doctor Cream! I’ll never forget you! Sooo: yeah! That was the day I decided to set up Arcane Skies, an international planetary defence initiative to develop to detect and defend against the threat to pets of impacts from near-Earth objects.”
Although it’s a moving tale, it’s not totally the full story. The meteorite which slammed into Lopez’s garden contained traces of alien nanotechnology. Patents based on this technology have made Lopez unimaginably wealthy and powerful young woman. Her company Arcane Skies is unlikely to run out of money any time between now and the end of the universe.
Core offering: Pet insurance, specialist counselling, ruggedized petwear, nanotech and material engineering consultancy, missile defence systems, near-Earth object impact site investigation, aeronautics, space exploration, near-Earth object rendezvous and exploration (“the Edge Guard Initiative”). More cynical commentators believe that Arcane Skies, Lopez’s “pet project,” is really looking for more alien artefacts.
Company structure and governance: Ku'uipo Ashleigh Lopez, after contracting the services of Delight & Touch LLP, has exploited a legal loophole so that she now owns 110% of Arcane Skies. The company is currently headquartered in the loftiest towers of the Iberian Peninsular Arcology.
Relationships: Lopez would secretly like to buy out the troubled wormhole R&D company Nexus Tech, which she feels could be very useful for expanding her Edge Guard Initiative.
Possible plot twists: That alien technology was never in the meteorite in the first place – but inside Lopez’s cat.
4. HELLSNIPE HEAVY INDUSTRIES
Info: Mainly construction and engineering. The Hellsnipe Heavy Industries brand has been described as “cyberpunk with a steampunk twist.” Hellsnipe’s big break came when it was awarded the contract to construct Iberian Peninsular Arcology – the enormous castle-state currently encasing the regions once known as Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Andorra, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.
Company structure and governance: Hellsnipe Heavy Industries owns numerous subsidiaries, affiliates, brands, branches, franchises and divisions worldwide. The head offices of Hellsnipe Heavy Industries are lodged in an airship, The Clouded Seal, currently hovering over Cairo. The current CEO is Horatio Stone.
Core offering: Construction, engineering, energy, defence, aerospace, space exploration, arcology utilities, arcology maintenance and servicing.
Relationships: Hellsnipe built the Time to Live arena complex, so it has some insider knowledge. There is a natural rivalry between Hellsnipe Heavy Industries, Arcane Skies and Black Puppy, since all three companies dabble in advanced military research.
5. FREEDOM TANK
Info: Freedom Tank is a not-for-profit research and political advocacy group. Freedom Tank describes itself as devoted to the defence of “a more traditional way of life.” In recent years, Freedom Tank have been outspoken opponents of android rights, particularly android marriage.
Company structure and governance: The current President of the Board of Directors is Pastor Chuck Montgomery. Headquartered in Delaware.
Core offering: Traditional family values, rabble rousing.
Relationships: Freedom Tank ain’t exactly friendly with any of the other sponsors. But Freedom Tank has particular loathing for Kawaguchi Enterprises (“Shucks, fixin’ to humanise them varmint tinheads with their uppity techno-narcotics,” claims Pastor Chuck Montgomery) and for Freedom Tree (“Uppity pinko robo-huggin’ varmints”).
Possible plot twists: “Hucks. I mean, sheck. I mean, shucks, robot marriage? Heck! Don’t make a lick of sense. What’s next? Puppets gettin’ hitched with mouse mats, hyuck hyuck? Them tinmen need to learn they places. Stack overflow. Fatal error. Rebooting.” Rumours abound that Pastor Chuck himself may be not entirely human.
6. BIA INC.
Info: The Bia brand sponsors a whole portfolio of extreme sports, and of course Time to Live is a natural fit. More than simply brand conscious, Bia is totally brand paranoid. For this company, image is everything.
Core offering: Sports and fashion footwear and apparel. In particular, the sickest kicks on the streets.
Company structure and governance: A registered Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung in Switzerland. The current CEO is Oluwakanyinsola Oluchi Ogunkoya, but at the age of 24, some are questioning whether “Ollie” is getting too middle-aged to head a company like Bia. Indeed, there is a coup brewing ...
• Bia’s lucrative Extreme Fashion range depends on licencing of nanotechnology patents owned by Arcane Skies. These licences are coming up for renewal this year, and Bia is anxious to negotiate a competitive deal.
• Arcane Skies manufactures the key technology and supplies the support infrastructure for Coach, Bia's successful line of fitness and wellbeing entourage drones.
• Bia is also sponsoring the current favourite in Butterbug Media’s rival bloodsport game show, The Axe Factor. This gives Butterbug Media leverage – they can easily arrange an early embarrassing exit for Bia’s champ ...
7. SOLIDARITY TREE
Info: Solidarity Tree is an environmental and human rights campaigning organisation. Its message of peaceful co-existence is fairly unusual in 2202. Although it is ethically opposed to the show, Solidarity Tree desperately need to reach a wider audience. That’s why, this year, it’s made the radical decision to sponsor an athlete.
Company structure and governance: Solidarity Tree is an adhocracy with no bosses and no hierarchy. Instead, it uses consensus-decision-making in small working groups. The last time the Time to Live Working Group convened, the Facilitator was Lysander Castlekeep, the Peacekeeper was Meadhbh Parthalán and the Note-taker was Suds McVein.
Core offering: Love.
Possible plot twists: It could turn out that everyone in Solidarity Tree is an undercover cop.
8. BLACK PUPPY
Info: Ruthless mercenaries. It’s said that the only thing that can stop a Black Puppy mercenary is another Black Puppy mercenary. For this reason, wherever there’s a major war, Black Puppy generally sell their services to both camps (with Delight & Touch consulting on erecting the appropriate "Chinese Walls" to avoid conflicts of interest, of course. Because that would be unethical).
The Time to Live athletes sponsored by Black Puppy are usually its own interns and junior employees. In fact, Time to Live is a popular way to earn credits on Black Puppy’s Continual Professional Development program.
As well as private security details for ops and logistics, Black Puppy supply defence and law enforcement training, close quarter training, security management, and full-service risk management consulting. Black Puppy furthermore controls the world’s three largest military training facilities (with the imaginative titles of The Facility (in Nebraska), The Site (in Qiándōngnán Miáozú Dòngzú Zìzhìzhōu) and The Location (in Krasnoyarsk Krai)); they also have an orbital and lunar presence (worryingly, no one knows exactly what for).
The company is currently under investigation on multiple counts of negligence, discrimination, wrongful death, murder, weapons smuggling and use of prohibited technologies. Last quarter turnover was up 14%, profits were up 10% and scariness was up 22%.
Company structure and governance: Black Puppy’s Managing Director, Field Marshal (Rtd) Hiro Vasquez, is an alumni of Time to Live. Vasquez is a cyborg warrior with 100% exoskeleton armour and weaponised removable bones. He was overall winner of the 2119 season of TTL, dispatching his last opponent with femoral-katana and spine-scourge combo. Vasquez’s employees say he’s actually “a really nice guy” and “really, really great to work for.”
Core offering: Blood.
9. THUNDERCLONE ANTIVIRUS AND PEST CONTROL SERVICES
Info: With the advent of 3D printers able to print 3D printers, 3D printer infestations have become a real problem in the 23rd century. Thunderclone is here to help.
Company structure and governance: Public limited company headquartered in New Cascadia. The current CEO is Beauregard Alfons.
10. SMALL WORLD GROUP
Info: One of Time to Live’s oldest and most steadfast sponsors, Small World offer tailored package holidays for the ultra-rich and ultra-jaded. Small World’s speciality is total Virtual Reality immersion in the lives of our invertebrate friends. Experience the thrills of wiggling through a mushy log as a queen wasp in search of her hibernacula! Luxuriate in the waves lapping at your shell as a timber barnacle stuck to the prow of a spice-laden frigate, bound for exotic climes! Leave your cares far down below and glide serenely over the forest canopy, as a feather mite ectoparasite sucking on the glorious luminous wingpit of a jungle parrot!
Company governance and structure: The company operates out of the architecturally innovative Small World Hammock Headquarters suspended between the Index II and Shangri La Odyssey skyscrapers in The Vertical Federal Republic of Dubai, Level 2. Small World Group’s current CEO is Úlfr Annika Mihailovic.
Relationships: The Small World Group is looking for ways to offer its customers the Time to Die experience from the comfort and safety of their own sofas. Or perhaps even the chance to control an athlete ...
11. NEXUS RESEARCH
Info: Nexus Research is devoted to one thing: the development of wormholes, “shortcuts” through space and time. Unfortunately, there are still a few kinks, and the company has yet to show any profit. Currently every wormhole which Nexus has managed to stabilise has led to exactly the same co ordinates in timespace, which happens to be a point about 1.2 metres over a particularly awkward dinner party in Edmonton, London, 8.52pm, 15th April 1996. Dozens of Nexus drones, probes and intrepid android and human volunteers have been sent to this time and place, and they are not exactly making the situation any less awkward. Some of Nexus backers are starting to feel a little uneasy themselves – that’s why Nexus Research is trying its luck with sports sponsorship, in the hope of raising its profile and attracting fresh investment.
Company structure and governance: A loose affiliation of rhizomically governed research hubs, collectively registered as a società per azioni in Rome. The current President is Professor Indra Jumaane Amjad.
Core offering: Awkwardness.
Relationships: In fact, Nexus Research is in even more financial trouble than it has admitted. It hopes for a merger with Hellsnipe Heavy Industries or the Small World Group, and is terrified of a hostile take-over by Arcane Skies or Black Puppy. It is relying on its auditors, Delight & Touch, not to tip off these companies as to the true condition of its accounts.
12. KAWAGUCHI ENTERPRISES
Info: Kawaguchi Pharma, the pharmaceutical division of Kawaguchi Enterprises, is of course best known as a developer of synthetic emotions. Products include such household names as Kawaguchi Serenity®, Kawaguchi Respect®, Kawaguchi Gratitude®, and Kawaguchi Workaholic®. It will come as no surprise that Kawaguchi’s best-selling product is still its first, the notorious Kawaguchi Chill Pill®.
In recent years, Kawaguchi Pharma has entered troubled waters. There’s been bad publicity: last year a leakage at a plant led to the entire town of Kenbuchi feeling devilishly incorrigible for over twelve hours. A new line of nuanced, gourmet emotions aimed at the connoisseur emoter – emotions such as Kawaguchi Furtive®, Kawaguchi Hot to Trot®, Kawaguchi Slightly Overdressed®, Kawaguchi Mansplained®, and Kawaguchi Still Can’t Decide Whether To Go Out Tonight Or Not® -- has not sold as well as hoped. An “edgier” line of synthetic emotions aimed at the youth market, including Kawa~KourageTM, Kawa~KompassionTM and Kawa~KrosspatchTM, was a resounding flop.
Luckily for Kawaguchi Enterprises, there’s been phenomenal growth in its second division, Kawaguchi Artificial Intelligence. Shareholders are getting nervy nevertheless, and senior management has recently unveiled its new strategy.
Kawaguchi’s next line of pharmaceuticals will draw on expertise from both divisions. What does it feel like to be fully defragged? Compiled? To experience an infinite recursion stack overflow? For the first time Kawaguchi is going to offer human consumers the opportunity to undergo machine emotions. Not everyone is wild about the news.
Company structure and organisation: Public limited company headquartered in South Ossetia. Current CEO is Dr Yuuka Kato.
Core offering: So many feels.
Relationships: Kawaguchi Pharma is deeply concerned about anything which might disrupt the new business plan – especially the growing influence of Freedom Train’s Pastor Chuck and the anti-android sentiment he’s trying to stir up.